By Craig Robert Whitfield.
What does the name Alan Whicker mean to the Pokemon generation? Very little I suspect. Today, you might think about Simon Reeve and Michael Palin when considering TV globe trotters. They provide an insight into the history, culture and politics of many obvious and obscure countries and societies today. However, you can bet your bottom dollar that they would cite Alan Whicker as their inspiration. After all it was he who essentially created the concept of world travel documentary film making.
A perfect gentleman who wearing his famous dark rimmed glasses and always sporting a smart blazer, shirt and tie created and set the standard. In some respects his outfits didn’t always fit the assignment but Alan maintained his identity by sticking to this formula. We should not forget his moustache which was equally part of the Whicker legend.
Whicker, always at ease treated his subject matter seriously and wasn’t afraid to ask those difficult, awkward and honest questions to those he interviewed. It all started for Alan on the Tonight show filming shorts for the show. These were often informative and humourous but they didn’t extend beyond our island, was offered little air time and filmed always in black and white.
Later, after the Tonight show’s demise was born Whickers World, his very own show. In it’s early incarnation these were 30 minute documentaries which considered many subjects, and although he considered some subjects that again concentrated on these shores he was finally free to jump on a plane and travel to the New World. This early series made by Yorkshire TV set the tone for what was to follow later and for the first time we had the opportunity to see in Alan in colour and he made the most of this with his more colourful shirts.
From the 17 episodes viewed and available those such as Let’s Have an Airport, The Glorious Twelfth, The Most Beautiful Hotel in the World, Singles Inc and others have left their mark on me. Even if you just watch these 4 episodes you will see for yourself Alan showcasing his spectrum of brilliance. From black and white to the transition to colour, humour to hard hitting journalism, support to cynicism it’s all there. This is TV documentary making in its infancy and yet the standard has as I write yet to be bettered.
Many thanks to Craig for the excellent review above. When the DVD starts, the Yorkshire Television Chevron appears… with a monochrome shot of a plane taking off. What else could it be apart from Alan Whicker. I’m watching the first release of Network’s new chronological Alan Whicker releases, with the being to release every single episode Whicker made for ITV, in the original broadcast order.
The first episode starts not far from Yorkshire TV’s studios, just down the road at Leeds Bradford Airport (I work just five minutes away from the airport now!). The first colour episode is ‘The Glorious Twelfh’ – with one of the first colour images being Whicker walking over the Yorkshire Moors in his infamous immacuate suit, this image stayed the same throughout his career.
Volume 1 – Whicker
Editions included are:
Let’s Have An Airport
The Glorious Twelfth
The Aristocracy Business
The Most Beautiful Hotel in the World
The Road from Rose Linda’s
A Right Royal Fiesta
After Us – What? Penguins
Volume 2- Whicker’s New World
Volume 2 is Whicker’s New World. This has over four hours of more fascinating episodes from 1969, including one famous interview with Haitian dictator Papa Doc Duvalier.
Editions included are:
Papa Doc: The Black Sheep
Carl Gustav Von Rosen: Pugnacious Pacifist
To buy Volume 2 click here – http://networkonair.com/shop/2421-whicker-s-world-02-whicker-s-new-world-5027626452643.html